Tag Archives: “alive is awesome”

Ocean bath

Feeling alive: My first ocean bath!

There were butterflies in my stomach.

I forgot everything the instructor told me the day before. And there was quite a lot of it.

The vast sight of the endless ocean is enough to get even an expert swimmer nervous, I’ve heard. So I took consolation in the fact that I’m not even an expert.

The endless ocean

The endless ocean stretches out into the horizon

The blue green shimmering sea beckons

The blue green shimmering sea beckons

Yes, I know how to swim. In a pool, I could probably save a life too. But here, many miles from the shore, in the middle of a shimmering blue green ocean, and a boat which was swaying with the waves, the slight panic was unavoidable. It was fear, mixed with a heightened sense of anticipation.

I’ve never actually jumped into the ocean before. I’ve frolicked with the waves, like everyone does when they go to a beach. But jump and swim? Never. And jump and dive? Ditto!

Even with a life jacket tied firmly and an instructor who kept telling me to breathe normally, I had my doubts.

But… there I was! Out in the ocean somewhere off the Andaman islands. In a boat in the middle of nowhere. And I’d paid quite a bit to get there.

And that’s how my ocean bath happened. Watching the ocean bath in Cintol’s “Alive is Awesome” series, I can now say that I did it too.

Getting ready for the jump!

Getting ready for the jump!

What a feeling!

What a feeling!

It was definitely an experience to remember. The instructors checked if the life jackets are tied properly. Whether the oxygen tanks were full and working. And then, the boat was tethered to the depth of the ocean. It was time.

I must admit (much as I’d like to say I was very brave and didn’t feel an iota of fear) that it wasn’t my most confident moment. But it was definitely my “alive is awesome” moment. You know the feeling? When there’s fear, but the anticipation of the larger experience takes over. I let go of the safety of the rocking boat, I looked around one time at the mighty ocean, at my smiling instructor and took the plunge.

Next, was the big splash as I entered the water and then went under, letting out my breath the entire time. The water wasn’t as cold as it looked, in fact it was quite warm in those tropical climes. A few seconds later, I was back with my head out of the water and suddenly everything looked well again in the world. I was afloat and I could see the others heading towards the rope.

The very rope which we were going to use to lower ourselves into the ocean. But that is a different story, already told in this tale about my Andamans experience.

The warm tropical waters makes it easier when you jump!

The warm tropical waters makes it easier when you jump!

Jumping into the waters, this first dive into the ocean, getting engulfed by the waves gave me the feeling of how “tiny” I was in the middle of this endless ocean. But there is only one word that can describe what I felt when I jumped and emerged out of the water… alive!

Making our way through the waters

Making our way through the waters

Alive is awesome!

Alive is awesome!

– Come with me as I experience the village bath experience, the anticipation of first rain, the elephant bath, the “ice-ice” baby feeling and the cold mountain water crossing experience!

This is a part of the Alive is Awesome campaign from Godrej Cinthol. For fun contests and the latest visuals swing by this page).

Mountains and river crossings

Mountains and water crossings: ooh, aah, shiver!

Alive is AwesomeWe surveyed the scene before us. But none of us wanted to take the plunge.

The cold mountain water gushed out from the left embankment of the road, formed a big pool of water and then gushed into the valley below. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t have bothered at all and walked through. But this was different. This was ice cold water that none of us wanted to wade through.

alive is awesome

After our first day in the mountains, all of us got wise and bought ourselves gumboots. Perhaps the best accessory purchase decision we made before the trip.

We were somewhere on the way to Leh, having started from Manali. And to add to our woes, we were on two non-mechanized human powered wheels. Also called bicycles.

alive is awesome

If cycling wasn’t foolhardy enough, we were also trying it with gumboots. Wasn’t exactly a very pleasant activity. There were times when I badly wanted to throw them out, but the thought of these icy water crossings would keep us going.

We were a set of 10 brave souls who decided to weather the cold climes, the non-existent roads and unfriendly terrain to cycle up to Leh. And no, we hadn’t accounted for the cold water crossings we would encounter. Brrrr!

alive is awesome

Have you ever felt the first sting of ice cold water on skin? You brave yourself, shiver in anticipation, say a small prayer or mutter an expletive and then take the plunge. No sooner than having put your feet in water, the cold chill envelops you and you try and run. Which makes it worse, of course.
alive is awesome

By the time you cross over, you’ve already got your feet wet. And by such time, the cold seeps into your socks, your feet and even your clothes. It’s at this crucial juncture that you start wondering what on earth possessed you to even venture into this alien land.

By the time were on day 3 or 4, one member of our tribe, decided that he had to get a taste of what it really felt like. He decided to have a bath right there. Probably a good thing, since he hadn’t actually had a proper bath for a few days!

alive is awesome

Some of us weren’t that brave.

But the more I think about it, the more I feel that even despite the cold, even despite the icy waters, there was something that felt so good. It was in the fresh air, it was in the sparkling water. It was everywhere!

It was one of those times when we went with the flow. We didn’t care for the date or day of the week. We would sit on the cycle everyday, with a simple goal of making it through the day. Alive and dry.

Those ten days in the mountains, were some of the most memorable times we’ve had… Come rain, sunshine, slush or even icy river crossings, we’d be on our cycles riding hard and giving it all. And we’d never felt so happy and alive!

alive is awesome

More in this “Alive is Awesome” series for Cinthol:

What makes you feel alive? Splash!
First rain – have you felt it lately?
A jumbo bath experience can be fun
Ice, ice baby and taking the plunge!

Ice, Ice, Baby!

Ice, Ice baby: Things that make you feel alive!

There’s something about the cold and sub-zero temperatures that’s both spine-chilling and exciting at the same time. It makes you go “brrr” and yet the chill in the bone also gets you high (in the good sense!). When you see mountaineers climb the Everest, wrapped up in many, many layers of warm jackets or people visiting the coldest places on earth, it makes you wonder – are they really enjoying the extreme cold?

Road to Tawang

The higher you go, the colder it gets…

More importantly still, how do they even dare to take a bath?

This week’s Cinthol ad, where 3 intrepid people plunge into a polar bath literally made me shiver… The very thought of jumping into a pool where the water is many degrees below zero brings on the goosebumps, or gooselumps, as it says. It takes some courage, added with a bit of craziness to pull it off. And probably shouldn’t be attempted without parental supervision! (Or someone to pull you out, since once you’re in the freezing cold water, you might not actually be able to get out on your own.)

It reminded me of an adventure we had in the North East, a few years ago. Though we didn’t actually take the plunge, it was the closest we got to it! Four of us, intrepid travellers, decided to go and visit a few places including Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh), Shillong (Meghalaya) and Guwahati and Hajo (Assam). The travel to Tawang is an ardous though very scenic journey, which takes all of the day in a cab, along the most winding roads you’ll ever experience. In fact, you wouldn’t really want to roll down your window and look down at any point of time. Especially, if you suffer from vertigo.

It was March, but never the less, the temperatures in Tawang were already hitting the low digits. Our plan was to take a jeep and go further up the hills where we would see snow and also skirt very close to the China border. Both rather exciting propositions for us!

Misty day near Tawang

The cold and mist makes for very low visibility

As we ventured towards the colder climes, the mist in the air made it almost impossible for us to see anything. All we could feel was the cold seeping through our jackets and sweaters and into our bones. We tried to keep warm in the vehicle by huddling together, but there’s little you can do to beat the cold.

We came across a frozen lake bed. Further down, we came across another lake, but this one had melted slightly – the sun had managed to beat it down. The water looked cool and inviting. But jump in? No way! In fact, it was torture to even put a hand into the cold waters.

A close encounter with sub-zero temperatures

A close encounter with sub-zero temperatures!

Will he, won't he!

Will he, won’t he (jump)? He definitely won’t! And thank goodness, since none of would have been able to brave the cold and fish him out!

We skirted the lake, went around it, even posed behind it. It was possibly one of the remotest, coldest places I’d been to. I was freezing and yet I felt a sense of being alive and whole and what a feeling it was.

Exploring the frozen lake

Exploring the frozen lake and hoping there aren’t any gaps!

The frozen lake

Doing a quick jig in the ice!

So I can well imagine what would happen if I got the opportunity to plunge into a polar bath. But if I ever get a change, I’m definitely packing extra dollops of courage and lots of warm clothes to get into, “afterwards”. And if I survived to tell the tale, it would definitely be a very cold and wet one!

(This is a part of the blogging series for the Alive is Awesome bathing project by Cinthol)

Fancy a polar plunge bath? Head to:
- Lake Hudson, Canada
– Outer Glaciers, Iceland
– Beardmore Glacier, Antarctica
– Northern Borders, Greenland

More in the Alive is Awesome series:
Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

Elephant bath

What makes you feel alive? Jumbo bath!

I remember as kids, we used to hate being pulled into the bath. We loved getting dirty, and covered in grit, but when it came to cleaning up, we would procrastinate. This week’s refreshingly fun Alive is Awesome project visual revolves around a girl being bathed by an elephant. Go check it out – it does seem like a lot of fun!

Now maybe, if we had that option when we were kids, we wouldn’t have any problems heading for a bath…

Elephants are usually really gentle creatures. The domesticated ones, at least. They share a great chemistry with their mahouts and it’s quite a pleasure to watch them in action. Elephants are domesticated for different reasons in India and participate in different activities ranging from ceremonial, logging and construction, ceremonial and temples.

Elephant and mahout

The relationship between the elephant and the mahout is a special one

If you want to have this experience yourself (or at least one close to it), try the Dubare Elephant camp, which is on the way to Coorg. You can watch mahouts giving the elephants a bath and then get a chance to do it yourself. They seem to love it. As you scrub them, they lie back in the water, totally revelling in the feeling. And if they’re in a good mood, they might give you a bath back too. It’s their way of showing affection and gratitude, would be my guess!

Dubare Elephant Camp

Pic credit: http://www.dubareelephantcamp.com/gallery.html

These are, by the way, the same elephants which are taken to the famous Mysore Dassera parade every year.

Another place, where we witnessed the elephant bath is at Sri Lanka’s famous Pinawalla Elephant Orphanage.

Hundreds of these elephants saunter down to the river, led by the mahouts, with visitors perched everywhere trying to get a glimpse.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Head to Sri Lanka’s Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage for the famous elephant parade and bath in the Oya river

It was planned for the orphanage to attract local and foreign visitors and the income helps looking after the elephants. The Pinnawala Orphanage has since become a major tourist attraction. As of 2012, there were 78 elephants living here and I didn’t count, but we sure did see a lot of them during our visit.
Elephant parade

Elephants and mahouts making their way into the river for their daily ritual

The orphanage is open to the public daily. If you’re visiting you can take a look at the care and daily routine of the elephants, bottle feeding of elephant calves, feeding and bathing in the Oya River.

Makes me want to get myself my own elephant, aka jumbo bathing system now!

Jumbo life

Mahout bathing an elephant

Interact with elephants in Kannur, Kerala

Chitwan National Park, Nepal

Elephant bath in Thailand

— Also read Part 1 and Part 2

(This is a part of the blogging series for the Alive is Awesome campaign by Cinthol)

Note: All photographs used are mine, except when indicated otherwise and credited accordingly.

First rain

What makes you feel alive? First rain!

Alive is AwesomeThis is a series of posts where I am going to ponder about the feeling of “being alive”. Has it ever hit you? Sometimes in quiet moments and sometimes in your wildest hours, you feel exhilarated, you are glad you’re able to be “there”, enjoying that point in time, doing something that makes you feel “alive”. It’s an amazing feeling, for sure.

This is a part of the blogging series for the Alive is Awesome campaign by Cinthol. Part 1 can be found here.

First rain


As kids, the story is different. You want to feel the raindrops against your skin, against your face, against your limbs, soaked to the core.

I remember my growing up days in Guwahati, Assam. We lived in a house on the hill. In hindsight, it was paradise. From our little hill, we had a great view, shaded by some huge trees. We didn’t mind that at all. Our neighbours M and R and their parents, who lived downstairs, went on to become part of our extended family.

My sister and I would spend most of our time with M and R. We only needed a excuse to get together. Whether it was to go out and play, tell bad jokes or gossip, we spent most of our time outdoors, much to the chagrin of our respective mothers who always wanted to rule us with an iron hand (at least ours did, and still does!).

There were different things we looked forward to, but this I remember vividly. Waiting for the first burst of “rain” after those hot and humid summer months. The north east of the country gets generous doses of rain. And we would wait impatiently every summer, counting down the days to when the “rains” would arrive… So we could run out and get soaking wet. While the respective moms would scream at us. They didn’t quite understand the simple pleasures of just welcoming the rain, arms turned heavenwards.

Rain pouring down

We would do this for hours and hours. We were determined to enjoy ourselves and that we did. With arms wide askance, we would simply embrace the rain and let it soak us completely. The scent of the earth after the first shower, as the hungry soil just takes it all in, can is quite magical. The flora and fauna drenched in a coat of raindrops makes for a refreshing and pretty sight.

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.  ~ e.e. cummings

It made us feel happy. It made us feel alive! Now, when we hear any sign of rain, we rush indoors or look for an umbrella for the fear of getting wet.

Well, next time, there’s any sign of rain, try this – throw caution to the winds, open your arms wide and embrace the feeling. It’s quite amazing!

So what childhood memories do you recall that made you felt alive?

(This is a part of the blogging series for the Alive is Awesome campaign by Cinthol)